Top Tips for New Kitten Owners: Basic Kitten Habits (2023)

Top Tips for New Kitten Owners: Basic Kitten Habits (1)

Congratulations! You have added a new kitten to the family. This is a fun and exciting time as you get to know this adorable newcomer. This is also a time of great learning and your kitten needs you to be prepared to start off on the right foot. To make things easier, more efficient, and safer for everyone involved, here's a list of some general fundamentals to point you in the right direction. However, if this is your first experience with a cat, I suggest you take the time to read a good book on kitten and cat care, because there are a lot of details that cannot be packed into a short article. Being prepared to protect your kitten, bond, train, and provide the proper nutritional and veterinary care will help ensure your new furry family member lives a long, healthy life. It is also important to know how cats communicate and show affection. For many first-time cat parents, they make the mistake of comparing cats to dogs, and this is a win-win situation. Cats are not small dogs. There are also many training mistakes that are easy to make as you guide your kitty through life. You can find my step-by-step training techniques, as well as all the other information you need to raise your kitten, in my book,Think like a cat:How to raise a balanced cat and not a bitter cat.

This article will give you an introduction to the basics your new kitten will need, so here we go.

Basic equipment for kittens

  • good quality cat food
  • fresh water
  • A "sanctuary" room where you may initially be confined
  • Uncovered litter box (low sides for easy entry)
  • garbage without smell
  • sand shovel
  • Food bowl (a size that is easy for a kitten)
  • Water bowl (separate from the food bowl)
  • Scratching post (sisal cover)
  • soft cleaning brush
  • Nail cutter
  • Safe toys to play alone
  • Interactive toys (fishing rod design)
  • cozy bed
  • Hiding places (side box, cat tunnel, etc.)
  • cat carrier
  • Cat tree (to climb)
  • Identification (microchip, badge, detachable collar)
  • Training treats (or you can use kitty food)
  • Clicker (optional training tool)

First stop for your kitty: the veterinary clinic

Your kitten will need veterinary care for a lifetime and the time to start is now. Depending on where you got your kitten and its current age, you may need to start or continue the kitten's initial vaccinations and deworming. Even if she got her shots before you, an initial visit to the vet for a checkup before you bring her home is important, especially if you already have other pets at home.


Your vet can also provide nutritional guidance, show you how to do things like nail trimming, and provide answers to your questions about first-time cat parenting. It's also important to establish a client/vet relationship now, as your new family member is just getting started.

You can find more information in the following article:

How to choose a veterinarian

A safe place for a grounded kitten

While you're probably very excited to start your life with the new kitten, remember that your home environment is unfamiliar and large. This is a lot for a kitten to adjust to initially, so it's best to confine him to a room. I have always referred to it as the "sanctuary" room. It could be an extra bedroom or any room you can close off. In this way, the kitten can orient itself without feeling overwhelmed.

(Video) New Kitten? 10 things you NEED to know!

Your kitten is also learning activities like using the litter box, scratching, climbing, exploring, etc. It's so much easier for him to have everything conveniently located now. Depending on your kitten's age, having the litter box close by is crucial.

Equip the sanctuary room with your kitty's litter box, an upright scratching post, a horizontal scratching post, some hiding places (paper bags or boxes on the sides), a cozy sleeping area, food and water (place them away from the box of sand).

Your kitten will also need toys. Leave some safe toys to play alone. For interactive play, you'll bring toys so they can be used with your supervision. You don't want to leave out any string toys or anything that could pose a danger to your kitty.

Leave the carrier in the sanctuary room for your cat to use as a hiding place, if you like. Cover the carrier with a towel and your kitty has a safe place if she wants to snuggle there.


Start introducing the kitten to your family members while he's in the sanctuary room, but do this in a way that doesn't overwhelm him. When you're not there to supervise the kitten, keep her in the sanctuary room until she's old enough and confident enough to take over the house.

The amount of time your new kitten will need to spend in the sanctuary room depends on her age, personality and whether you have other pets at home. If he's the only pet and seems comfortable and confident after about 24 hours, you can start letting him explore the house little by little. Always make sure he knows where his litter box is and that he can return to the safety of the sanctuary room. If you have other pets at home, keep the kitten in the sanctuary room while you make a gradual, positive introduction. If he's a very small kitten, keep him confined to a smaller area until he's more comfortable walking around and knowing where his litter box is and not getting lost or disoriented at home.

the cat bearer

Even after your kitty leaves her sanctuary room, keep her carrier primed and ready at all times. This will help make your kitty comfortable with her presence, and over time you can do some carrier training to help desensitize your kitty to the experience of being in a carrier as well as traveling. It's never too early to start training her to accept being a carrier. You can do this by placing treats near and also inside the carrier. You can even offer him some of your meals there. While it might be easy now to put a kitten in a carrier, it will be much more difficult to fight an adult cat if he really doesn't want to go. Training early will save you and your cat a lot of stress later on. You can find specific information about cat carriers in the following articles:

Help your cat adjust to a carrier

(Video) Everything You Need for Your Cat | 10 Cat Essentials for New Guardians

Choosing the right luggage rack size

Top Tips for New Kitten Owners: Basic Kitten Habits (4)

Foto: Shutterstock

meet you

The time your kitten is in the sanctuary room is the time to start the bonding process. You can bring an interactive toy (fishing rod design) to start what will hopefully become a lifelong routine for the two of you: daily play sessions together. Kittens have a lot of energy and need to be able to learn their emerging skills, so they need to play, climb and jump. If you have a scared kitty, the toy's fishing rod design will help build confidence by putting you far enough away for the toy to relax and enjoy the game.

Bring other family members into the sanctuary room to meet the kitten. If she is shy, do one person at a time.

Protection and safety for kittens

Your kitty will likely see everything in the house as a potential toy. He will also have a strong desire to be vertical, so your curtains and bookshelves are potential jungle gyms. Kittens often have trouble getting into the most unlikely of places, so take the time to go kitty-proofing room by room. There are things in almost every room that you wouldn't think could be harmful, so it's important to look at each room from a kitten's point of view. For example, if you have a recliner, it might be easy for the kitten to hide there. and injure yourself while returning the chair to an upright position.

Washers and dryers may seem out of reach, but kitties easily find their way there. One way is that a kitten can crawl into a pile of dirty laundry and hide there. You might unknowingly pick up your clothes and throw them in the washing machine. Always put each piece of clothing in the washing machine separately. Also, check the washer and dryer before turning them on and again after emptying clothes before closing the doors again.


(Video) 20 Common Mistakes Cat Owners Make

Another misjudgment that many new cat owners involve involves a simple ball of yarn. You may have seen many pictures of kittens and cats playing with balls of yarn, and it might seem like a convenient and fun toy for a curious kitty, but it's actually life threatening. All cats have backward barbs on their tongues that are used in the wild to scrape meat off the bones of prey. Barbs also trap dirt, hair, and parasites when cats groom themselves. These barbs are what give your kitty's tongue that itchy feeling when she licks it. Because of the way the splinters face, anything that sticks to the tongue should be swallowed. The cat cannot spit out a piece of twine or twine. Swallowing these types of items can cause choking and can also cause life-threatening intestinal obstructions. Don't leave string, wool, thread or rubber bands where your kitten can grab them. Also, if you see a string hanging from your kitty's bottom, don't pull on it because there could be a needle stuck in it. Take your kitten to the veterinary clinic immediately.

Kittens are playful and curious, so it's crucial that you examine your home room by room and make sure it's kitten-proof.

Here are just a few examples of what to do:

  • safe window screens
  • Keep all medications
  • Do not leave strings, ribbons, rubber bands or other things that can be swallowed
  • Keep household cleaning products stored in cupboards
  • Use trash cans with lids or secure them to cupboards
  • Cut the handles off the paper bags before offering them as a toy.
  • Don't let your kitten play with plastic bags.
  • Cover small openings where a kitten can crawl in and get stuck.
  • Secure electrical cords so they don't hang down
  • Cover all hanging electrical cords with a bitter anti-chew product
  • Use museum or earthquake wax to protect breakable items that cannot be stored
  • Check the washer and dryer before doing the laundry
  • Always check when closing cupboards and drawers.
  • Keep all house plants out of reach of kittens (most are poisonous to cats)
  • Close all sewing and knitting baskets after use and double-check the rug for pins.
  • Don't leave burning candles where a kitten can reach them.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a secure screen.
  • Do not throw away the boxes without first checking to see if the kitten is hiding there.
  • Do a "kitten check" before you leave the house if it's locked in a closet or drawer
  • Block off the space behind the fridge so the kitten doesn't get in there.

Top Tips for New Kitten Owners: Basic Kitten Habits (6)

Foto: Shutterstock

The above list is just a small sample of the types of tests on kittens that may be needed. You will have to customize it for your specific home. Kitten testing may seem like a lot of work, but remember that your kitten will mature and outgrow many of the dangerous behaviors. If you have kids, you know you need to protect your home from babies and toddlers, but that doesn't last forever. And speaking of baby protection, you can find plenty of items to help protect you from kittens in the baby safety section of department stores and baby supply stores. Electrical cable covers, plug covers, cupboard locks, toilet paper roll covers, etc., are also very useful when protecting a curious kitten.


the sandbox

Since your kitty is still in the early stages of learning, the litter box setup should be conveniently located and easy to navigate. The box should have a low side or at least a low cut so the kitten can get in and out easily. As your kitty gets older, you can swap out the crate for a larger one, but for now, make sure it's short enough while he's young and working on developing his mental and physical abilities.

(Video) Top 10 Kitten Care Tips According to a Veterinarian

Keep in mind that your kitty may not be able to remember where the box is, or may not have the bladder control to get to it in time; Also, establish a schedule for taking your kitty to the litter box during times when elimination typically occurs, such as after a nap, after a meal, and after playing.

Here are some articles to help you create a good sandbox setup:

10 tips for creating a more attractive litter box

Litter box training for kittens

Top Tips for New Kitten Owners: Basic Kitten Habits (8)

Photo: Fotolia

Your kitten's food and water

Start by getting the correct food and water bowls. Your kitten needs her own bowl that is a good size for her. If you have a multi-cat household, it's a good idea to make sure all the cats have their own bowls. With your kitten, you will need to eat a growth formula and you must not eat the adult formula of another resident cat. You also don't want any adult cats to eat growth formula.

Kittens need to be fed several meals a day and your veterinarian can advise how often and how much to feed based on your kitten's specific age and health.

(Video) How to CARE for a KITTEN - Food, Education and Health


Your kitten needs fresh water available at all times. Do not place the water bowl next to the food and do not use a double feeder for food and water. Many cats do not like food and water together. If you already have larger pets at home, don't just bring a giant bowl of water. Your kitten needs a water bowl that's the right size for her.

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